Jon's Books

The Pope’s Cat

by Jon M. Sweeney, Illustrated by Roy DeLeon

This is the story of a stray born on the Via della Conciliazione in Rome, how she’s adopted by the Pope, and then “rules” the Vatican from museum to floorboard! First in a new series. No one has a closer view of what’s happening in the world’s tiniest nation, Vatican City, than Margaret, the Pope’s new cat. But she wasn’t always Margaret, and she wasn’t always the Pope’s cat. She started out as a stray on the streets of Rome, and there are those in the Vatican who wish she’d never been allowed inside.

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A Course in Christian Mysticism

by Thomas Merton OCSO (Author), Jon M. Sweeney (Editor/Compiler), Michael N. McGregor (Foreword)

Thomas Merton’s lectures to the novices at the Abbey of Gethsemani provide a good look at Merton the scholar. A Course in Christian Mysticism gathers together, for the first time, the best of these talks into a spiritual, historical, and theological survey of Christian mysticism—from St. John’s gospel to St. John of the Cross. Sixteen centuries are covered over...

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The St. Francis Holy Fool Prayer Book

by Jon M. Sweeney

In the tradition of The St. Francis Prayer Book, Jon Sweeney offers an ancient-medieval way of understanding and experiencing the Gospel: the Holy Fool. This countercultural approach is exemplified in the life and teachings of Francis of Assisi, the most popular Saint in history, and his good friend, Brother Juniper. What does it mean to be a fool for Christ? It meant...

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Phyllis Tickle: A Life

by Jon M. Sweeney

Phyllis Tickle’s literary estate has named Jon Sweeney her official biographer. This comprehensive volume focuses on every aspect of Phyllis’s life and career, including detailed discussion of her written work over fifty years (poetry, plays, literary, spiritual, and historical/theological), a close look at her marriage (they literally met in the nursery), seven children (one died in infancy), and life on the Farm in Lucy.

“[P]aints an exemplary, intimate portrait…. This loving biography impressively captures the grace Tickle demonstrated during a long, dedicated life.“ -Publishers Weekly, starred boxed review

“Readers familiar with Tickle’s work will not be surprised to find that her life was complex, shaped by tragedy but also by hard work and a deep and compelling spirituality. A solid biography of a complex, faithful woman.” -American Library Association’s Booklist

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Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul

by Jon M. Sweeney, Mark S. Burrows

Meister Eckhart (1260–1328) was a priest, a mystic, and nearly a heretic (he died before the Church court’s verdict). In the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Church rehabilitated him and the late Pope John Paul II spoke of his work with fondness...

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The Saint vs. the Scholar: The Fight between Faith and Reason

by Jon M. Sweeney

The year is 1140. Inside an imposing cathedral in France’s Champagne region, two of the most recognized men in the world are about to face each other in a contest of wills and a test of faith. On one side is Bernard of Clairvaux, a counselor and selector of popes who will be called “Saint” even before his death. The other is Peter Abelard...

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The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started

by Jon M. Sweeney

Popular historian and award-winning author Jon M. Sweeney relates the untold story of St. Francis's friendship with Elias of Cortona, the man who helped him build the Franciscan movement. Sweeney uses the complexities of their relationship in a gripping narrative of how their efforts changed the world and how Elias's enthusiasm betrayed the ideals of his friend.

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Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings

by Jon Sweeney (Editor, Translator)

Biographies of St. Francis will only take you so far. It’s impossible to truly understand him without reading his writings. Sweeney has compiled all of the ones that we are most certain come from Francis himself, including his first Rule of life, the Rule he wrote for the Third Order, letters to friends, letters to people in power, messages to...

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Inventing Hell: Dante, the Bible and Eternal Torment

by Jon Sweeney

Hell: The word means terror, darkness, and eternal separation from God. Some people think the Bible is clear about hell, but what if they're mistaken? With gripping narrative and solid scholarship, Sweeney charts hell's "evolution" from the Old Testament underworld Sheol, through history and literature, to the greatest influencer of all: Dante's Inferno...

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The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping the Church

by Phyllis Tickle, Jon Sweeney

A thousand years ago, the church experienced a time of tremendous upheaval called the Great Schism. The one faith became two churches, East and West, and the course of world history was forever changed. And it all swirled around one Latin word in the Nicene Creed, filioque, that indicated the Holy Spirit...

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The Complete Francis of Assisi: His Life, The Complete Writings, and The Little Flowers

by Jon M. Sweeney (Editor)

There are many editions of the writings of St. Francis, and biographies about him, but here in one volume are both, plus the complete text of the late medieval work, The Little Flowers, which did more to establish the legend of the man than any other work. This "Paraclete Giants" edition includes the complete...

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The St. Francis Prayer Book: A Guide to Deepen Your Spiritual Life

by Jon M. Sweeney

This warm-hearted little book is a window into the soul of St. Francis, one of the most passionate and inspiring followers of Jesus. "Prayer was to Francis as play is to a child: natural, easy, creative, and joyful," author Jon Sweeney tells us. "Before it became common to speak in personal terms of a relationship with God, Francis did so and made it seem natural...

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The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation

by Jon M. Sweeney

The riveting story of Pope St. Celestine V, the pope who retired from the papacy. At the close of the tumultuous Middle Ages, there lived a man who seemed destined from birth to save the world. His name was Peter Morrone, a hermit, a founder of a religious order, and, depending on whom you talk to, a reformer, an instigator, a prophet, a coward, a saint, and possibly the victim of murder. A stroke of fate would...

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Verily, Verily: The KJV - 400 Years of Influence and Beauty

by Jon M. Sweeney

As historian Tony Lane once noted, without the King James Version of the Bible, it can be speculated that, there would be no Paradise Lost … no Pilgrim’s Progress … no Negro spirituals … no Gettysburg Address. And even though today there are more accurate and contemporary translations of the Bible, the KJV reigns supreme in...

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Beauty Awakening Belief: How the Medieval Worldview Inspires Faith Today

by Jon M. Sweeney

In the spring of 2008, Jon Sweeney set out to discover firsthand two of the finest examples of medieval faith, the Abbey of Mont St. Michel, on the Normandy coast, and the soaring Chartres Cathedral, in the fields of the Loire Valley one hour south of Paris. Stepping beyond the purely intellectual, armchair journey, he uncovers...

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Ireland’s Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick

by J.B. Bury, edited with introduction and annotations by Jon M. Sweeney

Explore Patrick’s place in history, the spread of Christianity beyond the Roman Empire, how Patrick first came to Ireland, the influence of the earlier Palladius on Patrick’s work, political and social conditions at that time, and the spiritual battles with the Druids. This 21st century edition includes notes from other notable biographers...

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Strange Heaven: The Virgin Mary as Woman, Mother, Disciple, and Advocate

by Jon M. Sweeney

Offering a glimpse into how the Incarnation placed Mary at the center of salvation history, an investigation into the mystery surrounding the Virgin Mary explores the many meanings of her life and legacy for all people.

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The Lure of Saints: A Protestant Experience of Catholic Tradition

by Jon M. Sweeney

Jon M. Sweeney explores how these exemplary men and women have impacted both the Church and the world. This guide includes profiles of ancient, medieval, and modern figures, Eastern and Western, the sublime and the unusual. Also included are the personal reflections of other religious teachers and writers on how they relate to one or more of the saints in everyday life.

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When Saint Francis Saved the Church: How a Converted Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages

by Jon M. Sweeney

Jon M. Sweeney, bestselling author of The Pope Who Quit, offers a surprising look at the world's most popular saint, showing how this beloved-but-often-mythologized character created a spiritual vision for the ages and may very well have rescued the Christian faith...

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The Little Flowers of Saint Francis

compiled by Brother Ugolino, introduced, annotated, arranged chronologically, and rendered into contemporary English by Jon M. Sweeney

This new paperback edition of The Little Flowers is unique in its physical beauty as well as its editorial arrangement. For the first time, the stories have been arranged in the most likely chronological ordering of when they happened—rather than following the traditional ordering of them handed down for centuries...

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Francis and Clare: A True Story

by Jon M. Sweeney

This joint biography illuminates the lives of Francis and Clare and their way of life. It shows how they were bound together by devotion to God as well as the violent objections of their families to religious life. It explores a variety of issues they faced, including the treatment of lepers in medieval society, corruption in the church, and attitudes toward the created world...

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The St. Clare Prayer Book: Listening for God’s Leading

by Jon M. Sweeney

Discover the spirituality of St. Clare and how it complements that of St. Francis. Enter into a week of morning and evening prayer centered on themes from Clare's life. Pray with Clare's own words in a variety of occasions. And enjoy a special appendix that dramatizes what it might have been like to be there on that first night when Clare fled to the little chapel called Portiuncula to become a brother, and much more.

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The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis - 120th Anniversary Edition

by Paul Sabatier, edited with introduction and annotations by Jon M. Sweeney

Originally published in French in 1894, Sabatier's was the first modern biography of Francis of Assisi. It was a worldwide bestseller, and in 2003 when this new edition was first published, it again sold more than 60,000 copies and was a selection of History Book Club. This new 120th anniversary edition includes a dozen additional annotations and a new preface by the editor...

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Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World’s Spiritual Traditions

by Jon M. Sweeney, Jennifer J. Wilson (Photographer), Mother Tessa Bielecki (Foreword by), Taitetsu Unno, Ph.D. (Afterword)

The power of words is nowhere more evident than when we use them to pray, but prayer is also the place where we most often come up against the limitations of words. In this intriguing book of reflections and accompanying photographs, we see how our bodies, in particular our hands, can give meaning to our prayers in a way that words alone cannot...

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Three Simple Men: And Other Holy Folktales

by Jon M. Sweeney (Adapter), Leo Tolstoy (Author), Anna Mitchell (Illustrator)

You’ve met the characters in these stories before. We meet them in folktales from all around the world. There is the simple, wise old man who understands far more than he knows; the pompous religious expert who discovers his folly before it’s too late; nosey neighbors and petty relatives; and a fight between good and evil in which, by story’s end, good and evil almost seem to switch places...

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Mixed-Up Love: Relationships, Family, and Religious Identity in the 21st Century

by Jon M. Sweeney, Michal Woll

Jon, a Catholic writer, and Michal, a Reconstructionist rabbi, live out the challenges of an interfaith relationship everyday as husband and wife, and as parents to their daughter Sima, who is being raised Jewish. In MIXED-UP LOVE, the couple explores how interfaith relationships impact dating, weddings, holidays, raising children, and family functions--and how to not just cope, but thrive...

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Cloister Talks: Learning from My Friends the Monks

by Jon M. Sweeney

Come along as author Jon M. Sweeney sits in the warm October sun talking with Father Luke or enjoys a December afternoon in the monastery with Father Ambrose. In Cloister Talks, Sweeney offers a rare glimpse into his decades-long friendships with monks and shares the wisdom and insight for everyday living he has gained along the way...

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Almost Catholic: An Appreciation of the History, Practice, and Mystery of Ancient Faith

by Jon M. Sweeney

Jon Sweeney, a self-described “evolved Protestant” and noted religious writer, has long been fascinated by the Catholic Church. However, it wasn’t until he was a young missionary in the Philippines that he truly began to understand the Church’s traditions, mysteries, and religious beliefs and its hold on those who follow the tradition...

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Born Again and Again: Surprising Gifts of a Fundamentalist Childhood

by Jon M. Sweeney

"When I was five, I knelt with my father in the living room of our house to ask Jesus into my heart." So begins Jon Sweeney's spiritual memoir of his childhood experiences. Full of poignancy, humor, and surprise, Born Again and Again explores aspects of Christian fundamentalism not usually seen: the mysticism of God indwelling the body, religious certainty and its positive and negative effects, powerful...

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Phyllis Tickle: Essential Spiritual Writings (“Modern Spiritual Masters” series)

by Phyllis Tickle (Author), Jon M. Sweeney (Author, Editor)

Phyllis Tickle has guided, inspired, and informed readers about spiritualty and religion for over six decades. Her series THE DIVINE HOURS has won the observance of fixed-hour prayer legions of new adherents; her analysis of the Emergence Christianity and its precedents, history, and challenges has reached people previously uninformed about...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Essential Spiritual Writings (“Modern Spiritual Masters” series)

by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author), Jon M. Sweeney (Editor)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1883), “the Concord Sage,” was a lecturer and essayist, who became the preeminent exponent of Transcendentalism. After studies at Harvard Divinity School he became a Congregational minister, but eventually resigned, judging, “This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me.” Strongly influenced by Indian...

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